There was a rally on Long Island, and then the bus departed for the Hudson Valley for a stop in Kingston before calling it a day in Albany.
The message was clear. New York State's schools are hurting and a lack of funding is making it difficult to educate our children.
“We are maintaining. We should be in good shape for the next couple of years,” said Maureen Bowers, a Kingston school board member, as she spoke in front the Educate NY Now Express bus that was making the run to Albany.
The Kingston school district is maintaining, but scores of staff members have been laid off in recent years and three schools have been closed with another planned for closure.
“We have laid off a lot of teachers. We have tried so hard to stay out of programs”, said Bowers. “But when you lay off staff, you affect programs. And those kinds of things can very difficult for students.”
The economy has been tough on the private and public sectors, but Bowers feels public education has paid and is still paying with cuts in state aid as districts try and find the money to pay for unfunded mandates.
“I think the economy is difficult, and we have made many adjustments over the years,” Bowers said.
Deficits, she said, are not just budgetary. They do apply to programs, and students are the ones getting short-changed.
“We can't keep operating at a deficit. It's not fair to our kids,” Bowers said.